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Lawmakers call for reinstatement of death penalty in NJ after family murdered

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COLTS NECK -

Several state politicians are calling for New Jersey to reinstate the death penalty in the wake of the murder of an entire family in Colts Neck last month.

Monmouth County prosecutors say that Keith and Jennifer Caneiro and their two young children were killed by Keith’s brother, Paul Caneiro, who also allegedly set their home on fire. Keith Caneiro was shut multiple times and the rest of the family was stabbed, according to the medical examiner.

Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said that it was one of the most brutal crimes he had since during his time as a prosecutor.

RELATED: ‘Somebody is dead here.’ – 911 calls from Colts Neck murder released
RELATED: Brother charged in Colts Neck murders won't go to trial until 2020

New Jersey banned capital punishment in 2007, but the state had not executed an inmate since 1963. State Sen. Dick Codey was acting governor when the death penalty was abolished.

"When we had it, it was never utilized. Appeals went on forever and they (death row inmates) were in a nursing home or on a ventilator,” Codey said.

VIDEO: Chopper 12 footage above Colts Neck mansion fire
VIDEO: Extended footage of press conference on Colts Neck mansion fire

But now lawmakers are looking into the possibility of reinstating the punishment. Republican State Assemblyman Harold Wirths had already co-sponsored a bill, prior to the deaths of the Caneiro family. Wirths said that their deaths are a prime example of why the punishment is needed.

“I'd love to have that debate with anybody who doesn't think whoever committed this crime should be executed and what possible value they have remaining on this earth once they're convicted and go through the judicial process,” Wirths said.

Wirths says that he does acknowledge that the death penalty faces tremendous opposition in Trenton.

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